With a frustrating 2015 behind her, Eilidh Child is focused on reaching the podium in Rio, she tells Eilish McColgan
Winning the European Championships last year was great. But my stand-out memory has to be the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Getting to run my lap of honour in front of a home crowd was amazing. My entire family was there, along with so many friends. They have been with me throughout my athletics journey. Often it’s much harder for them to sit and watch me compete, so to see the relief on their faces once I had won my medal is something I won’t forget.
I joined Malcolm Arnold’s training group at the end of 2010 because I knew I needed to work with a hurdles coach. In my opinion, he was and still is one of the best hurdles coaches; not only in the UK but worldwide. It was a very easy choice and luckily he took me on board. Malcolm is a very straightforward coach and his theory is simple – you need to work hard to get anywhere. There are no secrets to success and he firmly believes you will get out of the sport what you put in – if you are willing to make an effort.
We work in six-week blocks. During the winter, the volume is much higher but at a lower intensity. We do a lot of grass sessions and fartlek, building up to an hour in duration with one session a week maintained for hurdling. Around March, the volume is dropped with an increase in intensity; sessions become much quicker and more race-specific.
People find it strange that I relish winter training. Long, hard sessions are what the majority of athletes hate, but I come from an endurance background. I enjoy going out on fartlek runs for 45 minutes to an hour, turning on my iPod and getting on with it. We also do a session of 5x100m with timing gates near the start of the season. It’s always a lot of fun as everyone becomes extremely competitive. As soon as the gates appear, everyone gets very serious.
One session I dread is 2x440m flat-out or 2×50 seconds flat-out. They don’t sound like much, but the intensity is very high. The latter is particularly bad as we are running blind until the coach blows the whistle. You just know that you are going to hurt – it’s eyeballs-out all the way. Imagine running two 400m races with 15 minutes recovery in between. Only this is even worse.
I was completely starstruck when I met Sir Chris Hoy. He’s always been a massive hero of mine and I happened to bump into him going into the athlete apartments at the London 2012 Olympics. He was unbelievably friendly, although I couldn’t get out any words in reply. It’s great to have a hero and even better if when you do get the opportunity to meet them they are as great a person as you imagined.
The best piece of advice I ever received was to be patient. Being an athlete you want to win every race, but you have to have faith in the long-term plan. Everything will fall into place. I was quite late in making GB teams and major championships. Subsequently, I did go through a point when I was unsure about continuing. I’m so glad I did.
I worked as a PE teacher before becoming a full-time athlete. Once my athletics career is over, I’ll most likely return to the profession. Although, I would love to start a family. Or maybe just get more dogs.
I am essentially very lazy. Although I train hard, the rest of my life is pretty boring. I chill at home and walk my dog. I am a home-bird. It’s a nightmare trying to convince me to head out for the evening as I much prefer to stay in watching TV. Chicken fajitas and chocolate are two things I couldn’t live without.
The last two world championships have been missed medal chances for me. These opportunities don’t come around very often and I think those were two I let slip away.